If smashing turns and popping onto the back wheel on the exit are your bag then look no further
Absent from last year’s test after taking top honours in 2016 and pushing close in 2017, the Ragley Marley is back with a bang for 2019.
When the Marley won Hardtail of the Year in 2016 it was a great bike; but it also had a clear £100 advantage over its rivals. Since then it’s got longer and slacker, ditched the double ring, gained larger volume 2.6in tyres and grown its handlebars from an awkward 740mm to a more manageable 780mm.
And these new numbers really count on the trail. The sticky WTB front tyre helps you choose a line while the tough casing on the rear will forgive you when it’s the wrong one. The rasta-themed Marley will happily smoke through the rough stuff, the 130mm-travel RockShox Recon suspension fork sucking up the bulkiest of herb gardens even if lacking a little sensitivity on the flatter trails.
The SRAM Level brakes, also seen on the Sonder Transmitter, are the best in test. The lever shape is good, there’s power and feel in spades and, unlike some of the cheaper Shimano brakes, won’t need upgrading for winter riding.
Geometry wise the chainstays are a little on the short side so if smashing turns and popping onto the back wheel on the exit are your bag then look no further. Technical climbs are a little more challenging as a result, but then it’s safe to assume Ragley’s designers wanted Marley owners to have fun. To get up, you just might need to stand up…